The opening session of the UN Fourth Committee on decolonisation was dominated by a joint verbal assault on Britain by South American countries over the issue of the Falkland Islands reports the Gibraltar Chronicle.
One after another, representatives of governments in the region called on the UK to enter into dialogue with Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands
In a right of reply at the close of the session, the British representative said the UK had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and its surrounding islets and waters.
The UK official told the committee that Britain attaches great importance to the principle of self determination and added: "That principle underlines our position on the Falkland Islands."
"There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Islanders so wish," she said.
"The United Kingdom's relationship with all its overseas territories is a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of each territory to determine its own future."
The UK was fully committed to protecting the right of the Falkland Islanders to determine their own social, political and economic future, she later added.
The most robust intervention from the South American countries came, unsurprisingly, from Argentina itself.Mateo Estreme, charge d'affaires at the Argentine mission to the UN, said the Islands had been usurped from Argentina in 1833 and illegally occupied by Britain since.
In analysing the Argentine position, he sought to differentiate the territory and its people as two separate things, and rubbished the Falkland Islanders' plan to hold a referendum on their future next year.
"There is in fact a 'colonial situation' but not a 'colonised people'," Sr Estreme said.
"To allow the British population on the islands to become the arbitrator of a dispute to which their own country is a party distorts the right of self determination of peoples because there is not a people subject to the subjugation, domination or exploitation of a colonial power."
"In this sense, the announced 'referendum' is an illegal, spurious and tautological exercise as it is promoted by the British to ask British citizens if they want to continue to be British."
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